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More Information About ODH's Indoor Environment Program

Why is Healthy Indoor Air Quality Important?

The Indoor Environment Program was established in response to the growing recognition of indoor air quality as a leading environmental health issue for both adults and children. Funding sources include the US EPA Region V, general revenue and PHS Block Grant funds.

In recent years, studies performed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency have shown that indoor air pollution is one of the top five environmental problems jeopardizing public health today. These studies have shown that levels of pollutants indoors can be 2-100 times higher than the outdoors. This is of particular concern because most people spend up to 90% of their time indoors. Furthermore, studies by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and other research centers in Ohio have identified indoor air pollution as a priority health risk for Ohioans.

Some health problems that can be associated with indoor air pollution are eye, nose, and throat irritation, sinus congestion, coughing, sneezing, headache, fatigue and shortness of breath. More serious health conditions that can be triggered or promoted by exposure to indoor air pollutants are asthma, allergies and cancer.

Where are we located?

The Indoor Environment Program is housed within the Bureau of Environmental Health and Toxicology at the Ohio Department of Health.

What is the role of the Indoor Environment Program?

The primary role of the Indoor Environment Program is to provide technical assistance in preventing, assessing, and mitigating indoor air quality (IAQ) problems occurring in residences, schools and other public buildings across the state of Ohio. The staff is also involved in teaching seminars, developing curriculum and disseminating environmental health information related to indoor air quality.

SPECIAL FOCUS ON SCHOOLS . . .

Asthma and Schools

According to a National Institute of Medicine report (1993), asthma is the leading chronic illness of children in the United States and the leading cause of school absenteeism due to chronic illness. Asthma deaths and the number of children diagnosed with asthma continue to increase each year. In some cases, children may develop asthma or allergies by exposure to indoor air pollutants. Indoor air pollutants are of special concern to Ohio school children because between 30-40% of schools in Ohio have inadequate outdoor air introduced into the building (School Facilities: America's Schools Report Differing Conditions; GAO/HEHS-96-103). Because most children spend a significant part of their day in a school building, the IAQ Program has identified indoor air quality in schools as a priority issue.

What is the Tools for Schools Action Kit?

The Indoor Environments Program conducts IAQ Seminars for school personnel to teach about basic indoor air quality concepts and to introduce the Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Tools for Schools Action Kit, a guide developed by the US Environmental Protection Agency and other collaborators. This kit shows schools how to carry out a practical plan of action to improve indoor air quality at little or no cost using common-sense activities and in-house staff. It is specifically designed for administrators, teachers, school maintenance personnel, school nurses and others whose daily decisions affect the quality of the air within the school. It consists of an IAQ Coordinator's Guide, IAQ Coordinator's Forms which includes sample memos, checklists, logs, IAQ Backgrounder which provides information on a wide variety of indoor air problems, IAQ Checklists, and the IAQ Problem Solving Wheel. A video on heating ventilating and cooling systems is also included.

Tools for Schools Action Kits are provided free of charge to school administrators requesting them on school letterhead stationary. Supplies are limited please only order one kit per school. Contact us for free Tools for Schools Seminars in your area.

SPECIAL FOCUS ON HOMES . . .

What are some pollutants of concern?

The Indoor Environments Program deals with indoor air quality problems related to the following indoor air pollutants: bioaerosols and biological agents, volatile organic compounds, respirable particles (small enough to be breathed in), combustion by-products, and other common sources of indoor pollution:

  • Biological agents - such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, animal dander, mites, pollen, molds and mildews.
  • Volatile organic compounds - such as formaldehyde, pesticides, cleaners, adhesives.
  • Respirable particulates - such as environmental tobacco smoke, house dust, ash.
  • Combustion by-products - such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide.
     

Common sources include unvented or malfunctioning gas appliances, automobile exhaust, malfunctioning chimneys used for wood, gas or oil exhaust.

  • Indoor air pollutants addressed by other programs at the Ohio Dept. of Health include radon, lead, asbestos, tobacco smoke.
     

Is IAQ a problem for you?

  1. Does your home feel stuffy and stale when you enter from outside?
     
  2. Do cooking odors linger for hours?
     
  3. Is there soot around your furnace, boiler or hot water heater?
     
  4. Do you have mold growing on windows, walls and ceilings?
     
  5. Do you have headaches, irritated eyes, dizziness, breathing difficulties, nasal congestion, sore throats or drowsiness when you are in your home but feel better when you are away?
     

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you may have an indoor air quality problem.

For further information, contact the Ohio Department of Health, IAQ Program at:

(614) 644-7630
(614) 644-7740 (Fax)

Toll-free Number for School Related Calls:
(800) 200-2526

Other Related Programs at the Dept. of Health:

Radon 1-800-523-4439

Lead 1-614-466-5332

Asbestos 1-614-644-8665

Tobacco Smoke 1-614-728-2957

Other Related Programs:

Indoor Air Quality Information Clearinghouse

The Indoor Air Quality Information Clearinghouse is an easily accessible, central source of information on indoor air quality, created and supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The purpose of IAQ Info is to help you locate information to answer your questions about indoor air pollution. There is not a current web site from which private citizens may request information. The Clearinghouse can be contacted by telephone, fax, or mail.

IAQ Info

P.O. Box 37133
Washington, D.C. 20013-7133
phone 1-800-438-4318
direct phone 1-703-356-4020
fax 1-703-356-5386

Disclaimer

While the information and recommendations contained in the Ohio Department of Health’s Web Site have been compiled from sources believed to be reliable, the Ohio Department of Health makes no guarantee as to, and assumes no responsibility for, the correctness, sufficiency, or completeness of such information or recommendations. Other or additional safety measures may be required under particular circumstances.

Questions and comments may be directed by e-mail to: BEH@odh.ohio.gov

Last reviewed: 7/29/09

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